The world of health and fitness is a cacophonous blend of good science mixed with bad ideas and topped with greed. Every year a new parade of ab machines, testosterone-enhancing pills, weight loss shakes and diet books appear, many of which purport to be the “answer.” So how’s that working out for you? Seriously, go to a thrift store and see how many diet books and unused exercise machines you see for sale. Or maybe check your pantry and pull out the unused shake mixes, protein powder and vitamins. Let’s look at how a new (old school) approach could make a big difference.
There are a lot of diets, which may help you lose weight, but many of these methods leave you hungry or taste funny or give you bad breath. Of course, you have to eat, so instead of using your precious time and energy to jump through the hoops of whichever diet is trending on Facebook, maybe keep it simple:
1. Lose the white stuff like added sugars and processed carbs in the form of white breads, rolls, candy, juices, etc., which stimulate secretion of insulin and the storage of fat in your body. A benefit of fewer sugars and starches in your diet is fewer spikes in your blood sugar, a reduction in cravings and less bloating.
2. Listen to your mom and eat your vegetables. Oh yeah, don’t forget clean protein and healthy fats. If you have vegetables with every meal, a clean source of protein and some healthy fats with every meal you will have all of the vitamins, minerals and fiber you need. Check out Clean and Simple: Healthy Recipes for Your Busy Life for these kind of recipes.
3. Slow down and enjoy your food. Your body takes about 20 minutes to register fullness, so wolfing down that burger will leave you unsatisfied and craving more. Moreover, if you are driving, working or watching tv while you eat, you are prone to indulge more than if you just eat when you eat.
Are tired all the time? Are you gaining weight and you don’t know why? Do you find yourself irritable and forgetful? Adding more sleep into your life might be the solution to your troubles. Here are three reasons to turn off the tv and put your phone on silent a little earlier tonight:
1. Sleep well and be well. Study after study shows link between insufficient sleep and serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes and obesity. These issues might take years to manifest, but consider this one: Researchers have found those who sleep less than seven hours a night are almost three times as likely to get sick when exposed to a cold virus.
2. Sleep and brain function are linked because sleep loss affects your cognition, attention, memory and decision making ability. Furthermore, too little sleep has a negative impact on your emotional regulation, so you will be more apt to snap at your spouse, burst into tears or laugh uncontrollably.
3. Sleep is essential to losing weight. The precious seven to eight hours of sleep you need serves a purpose beyond keeping the dark circles away. One part behavioral and one part physiological, a good night’s sleep will stave off cravings because the levels of the fullness hormone, leptin, rise after a good night’s rest.
You didn’t see this one coming, did you? I’m not going to advocate the latest HIIT, plyo, CrossFit or yoga regimen. Rather, let’s discuss taking a walk:
1. Walk away the pounds may sound like a slogan for a wellness program, but it is true. The HHS recommends striving for a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity a day, which can be split into 10-minute segments. My friend, Barry, has lost almost 100 pounds through a better diet, going to the gym a few times a week and daily walks.
2. Track your progress using an app on your phone, a wearable device or a pedometer. Compare this to the amount of time it takes to complete the same number of steps and watch yourself get in better shape.
3. Enjoy yourself when you walk. Just like any other activity, you are more likely to stick with it long-term if you enjoy it (even a little). Listen to music, walk in a park, take a friend along or follow the example of my friend, John, who listens to podcasts as he walks.
The lesson here is simple. If you want to have more energy, perform better every day and maybe lose some weight, eat clean, sleep more and take a walk.